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Cheri Beasley Appointed As Chief Justice Of NC Supreme Court

Brookings Institution / Flickr

Gov. Roy Cooper today appointed Justice Cheri Beasley to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, making her the first African-American woman to hold the position.

“It is not lost on me, this historic factor, especially because this is Black History Month,” Beasley said at a news conference announcing her appointment this afternoon.

“I hope it’s a show of symbolism of where we are,” she continued. “This is certainly not the North Carolina of 200 years ago.”

Related Content: Phil Berger Jr. May Run For NC Supreme Court In 2020

Beasley succeeds former Chief Justice Mark Martin, who announced late last month that he would be stepping down to become dean of the law school at Regent University in Virginia.

Beasley was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 2012 by then-Gov. Bev Perdue. She was then re-elected to the position in 2013, again making North Carolina history as the first African-American woman to be elected to any statewide office without first being appointed by a governor.

Before her work on the Supreme Court, Beasley served as an appellate court judge and a district court judge.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he appointed Beasley, who is also Democrat, because she was “the right person at the right time.” But Cooper has received criticism from Republican legislators for his nomination.

Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that he’s “disappointed” that Cooper did not nominate Republican Justice Paul Newby, the most senior member of the court.

“A reasonable conclusion is that he decided to pass over Justice Newby because of his party affiliation,” Berger wrote.

The appointment also comes as the state’s court could move toward the left. Newby is the sole Republican left, and Cooper is expected to appoint another associate justice.

Both Beasley and the new appointee will be up for re-election in 2020.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.